Where to get innkeeping experience?

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New member
Oct 27, 2022
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Eastern Seaboard
Hey all,
My partner and I are hoping to open a 5-6 room bed and breakfast in the next 3 years. Much of the plan is in place, but to prepare I would like to spend a season or more working at an inn in order to experience the rigor and challenges of running one, and am flexible on the location where I get that experience. I would appreciate suggestions on where to look, or to connect with anyone looking for help!

Background: Years ago, in a major city, I managed 3 different airbnbs (I know that is not a popular platform on here!) for their owners which involved communicating with guests, cleaning/turnover, and handling any issues that arose. However, those airbnbs were not regulated, only housed one couple at a time, and were in apartment buildings so issues with infrastructure were handled by a super. There was no major structural, legal, or marketing investment on the part of the owners. I enjoy meeting people, am great at customer service, landscaping, and can cook and bake, but I would like to gain experience in an above-board operation and managing several rooms at once.

*I have found interim innkeeping jobs, but I do not think I am qualified enough for them at this time.
Take a job at a hotel or boutique hotel in your area. What area of the country are you in? Find a resort or destination and inquire At the smaller hotels. There are always jobs. You can do seasonal. Get a job at a ski resort in winter and at the lake or sea in summer.

even if you take a housekeeping job, you can offer to do the day off coverage for the front desk or bookkeeping help. Find a way to learn all aspects. Night manager is a hard job to fill and will give you lots of various experience.
In the early 70s I worked in the computer area of the Hyatt O'Hare second shift. They were already doing computerize check-in/billing/checkout. As charges were made, they created a card in the computer area. I worked second shift. Since I was single, if the 3rd shift (audit) was short-handed, I often stayed - on my own time - to help out, I became proficient on Previous balance reconciling among other things - I could function on that shift.

Fast forward to the early 80s. There was a trip I wanted to take and my now husband informed me if I wanted that trip, I had best get a part-time job.

I saw an ad in the paper for a part-time night auditor in the paper so applied. When handing in my application, I told them, I never had the job TITLE but stressed my experience at Hyatt mentioning previous balance. I think those 2 words got me the job. I did that job on & off (at one point a new front desk manager who did not understand part-time & I parted ways. When he left, his assistant who knew my work BEGGED me to come back - to the point he offered a $2 per hour raise & when the GM questioned paying OVER cap, he was told - I NEED her. And a year later, being unable to give me more money, the GM gave me meals in the restaurant for my husband and me) for over 10 years on my days off. the Night Auditor thought he had died and gone to heaven as the ONLY nights I could work were weekends. I had a background in what records to keep and how to keep them when I opened my B & B years later. THEN I got a job at a local motel here in housekeeping - I got it through a friend. I was paid, but was not even put on the roster because she did not think I would stay long - she was right. THAT was hard work!! But it gave me an understanding I did not have earlier. Beachie is right about how to get the experience.
I started by reading the book "Running a Bed and Breakfast For Dummies" by Mary White. Then I took a three-day aspiring innkeepers class at a B and B a few hours away in a popular tourist destination.

Then I found this forum, studied its resources, asked questions, and finally figured it all out enough to open with 2 rooms (really they're small apartments).

When those did well, I added 3 suites in the same building as the apartments, and this year I'm adding another suite in a building I bought about a block away from my main building.

So my advice is, do your research, maybe start off slowly, and add more as you get things under control. Try not to bite off too much at first, while you're still learning.
Also explore inn sitting for innkeepers taking a vacation. Running an inn for a week or two will give you great experience and perspective. And you'll be doing it during the slower times.

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